Russia, Ukraine sign UN agreements to free up Ukrainian grain exports; US announces $270M aid package: Live updates

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Russia, Ukraine sign UN agreements to free up Ukrainian grain exports; US announces $270M aid package: Live updates

Claire ThorntonCelina TeborChristine Fernando

USA TODAY

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Amid a growing global food crisis, Russia and Ukraine signed separate agreements Friday with Turkey and the United Nations to allow Russia to export grain and fertilizer, officials said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been trying to free up Ukrainian grain that has been stuck in Black Sea ports for months. The Russian blockage of millions of tons of grain has led to food shortages in Africa and Asia. 

“Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea,” Guterres said Friday. “A beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief in a world that needs it more than ever.”

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil. At least 22 million tons of grain are stuck there due to the war.

The deals were signed by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Guterres.

“You have overcome obstacles and put aside differences to pave the way for an initiative that will serve the common interests of all,” Guterres said to Russian and Ukrainian representatives.

An aerial picture taken on July 21, 2022, shows a combine harvester in a wheat field near Mykolaiv, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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Latest developments:

►Emergency workers recovered three bodies from a school destroyed by a Russian strike in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, officials said Friday. The shelling also damaged 85 residential buildings, according to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office.

►Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine said Friday they blocked Google in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, separatist leader Denis Pushilin posted to Telegram. Pushilin’s Telegram post claims Google is full of anti-Russian propaganda. 

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